Monday, December 07, 2015

Fallout Shelter isolation vault update: population 67

I'm fairly braindead at the moment, but have a screenshot of where my isolation vault challenge is at:

We won't go into how many caps I've wasted on a major overhaul of the layout again, but I'm happy with the way it's going now and I'm almost at unlocking gardens which is nice. They'll be going in that empty upper middle section, along with Nuka Cola plants (eventually) and the diners will be replaced by the higher-teir water purification rooms once they're unlocked. The older-tier water rooms will be demolished at that point.

The training rooms will only be there for as long as I need them, and the radio room has moved a good two or three times now. This vault is a real money-maker, which is handy with nuclear plants over the 10K per building cost mark now, nevermind the upgrades.

And deathclaws? They make it through 14 rooms (8 levels down the first column) and the dude in the medlab there finishes off the last one. I think the game is mad at me, cuz I hardly ever get deathclaws and can handle them with ease, since I have a metric crapton of stimpacks and only have to heal one person at a time.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fallout 4: How to turn in quests to Preston Garvey without getting new ones

This is a slight spoiler but the odds are, if you are here, you're looking for exactly this information. Basically, Preston Garvey is someone who will give you random quests to help settlers, and instead of asking you if you want to help, he will force each new quest upon you any time you turn in a completed one, or walk remotely near him. He seriously will not stop, ever. Via suggestions around the 'nets and some trial and error, I've worked out the sequence to successfully turning in Preston's missions while avoiding new ones.

1. Walk up to Preston and talk to him to start turning in the quest. He'll say a random thank-you/grats line or two.

2. Stay in front of Preston for the moment. He will now say something along the lines of "I have a new mission for you." Let him say this first line, otherwise the turn-in XP doesn't seem to pop properly in the next step.

3. As Preston is beginning to speak the first few words of the actual mission, walk/run away from him slightly and bring up your Pip-boy the moment you see the XP reward for the quest you just turned in. (If you stay standing there staring at Preston, the Pip-boy seems unresponsive. To be safe, you want to at least stay within earshot for this step or the turn-in XP may not pop.)

4. Fast-travel to somewhere else (Red Rocket Truck Stop will do).

5. Wait a few moments to make sure the new mission didn't register. Bask in the glow of the quest reward XP.

6. Done! :D

I managed to do this for two quests in a row, fast-traveling to Red Rocket Truck Stop both times without the new quest registering. Eat my shorts, Preston!

Update: It appears even if you never hear about the quests, you can fail them, which is stupid and has to be one of the worst game design decisions ever made. I've read elsewhere that failing those quests results in a permanent happiness loss at the related settlement, but I can't confirm this yet (I will at some point because screw Preston and his stupid quests). Every other faction I've come across with repeatable quests asks first you if you want to do them. And of course, it doesn't matter how ridiculously-fortified each settlement is, someone will always get kidnapped or think raiders can get through missile turrets and guards armed to the teeth. Stupid. Seriously, devs... what were you thinking? I'd shoot Preston between the eyes myself at this point, but he's immortal due to being a companion choice.

Update 2: Regarding the previous update, failing quests you never got in the first place may be glitched to not actually matter. I noticed that quests marked as failed for this reason seemed to reset if I went and talked to Preston out of curiosity. He gave me the failed quests all over again as if they were brand new (same location and everything) and didn't whine at me for having failed anything.

Also, if you avoid enough of the initial questline that leads to Preston becoming an active part of the ongoing game (hint: don't turn in the quest after you get the goodies on the roof of the building he's in), it appears that the random quests still do exist. I left Preston and friends where they are originally located with just enough of the quest left to make them stay there indefinitely, but later on discovered that a guard at Sanctuary (which I had populated via a radio beacon) had one of the usual "omg someone has been kidnapped/whatever" quests. I reloaded a quicksave and avoided her from then on. The game has yet to tell me I've failed any such quests at any of the settlements that character is running, and that character has a lot of time in-game after the initial meeting with Miss Quest Guard Of Doom.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Sweet Proposal - Seo Eishi's wedding dress set

Since I can't seem to find the various wedding dress sets around the 'nets in any definitive form, I'm going to catalog them myself as I go through the game. Sadly, I only started using walkthroughs on Seo so I've already been through Sakura and Todo once but didn't get their proposal endings. I wasn't sure if I wanted Seo's entire set, but it gave me the dress last so I got everything. I'll probably end up doing that with every guy since it takes so long to get through their stories. In the meantime, here's the gatcha image with the full set shown:

And here's the finished avatar with the background and painting from the last choice of things to buy in Seo's storyline before the proposal:

She winks:

The charm breakdown:
Dress: 150
Veil: 75
Hair: 75
Face: 75
Earrings: 75
Shoes: 75
Bears: 75
Sparkles: 20

I used Blah-Bidy-Blah's Seo Eishi walkthrough and highly recommend it.

And now I'm on to work on getting Todo's set, but since I don't spend money on scenario tickets, it's gonna be a while. I was pleasantly surprised by Seo's story, he's my second favorite. Todo's my favorite, looking forward to getting his set. :3

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Critical help for Fallout 4 bugs, glitches, and things you NEED to know (as non-spoilery as possible)

Fallout 4 is riddled with bugs and glitches, plus there is a frustrating lack of information for important things in the game, so I'm going to keep this updated with the most crucial stuff as I go along. Some of this will be partial fixes since it's clear specific issues need patching directly from Bethesda. As for the rest, it's not clear if it'll ever get patched because it may be "working as intended."

Militia "help x settlement" quests are timed!

To avoid spoilers I'll make this very vague. Basically, you are going to get militia quests regarding specific settlements at some point, and they'll usually start with a certain NPC saying "I've heard of another settlement that needs our help." Picking up the initial quest itself starts a timer that is very, very long (seriously, to the point that I thought that the first stage didn't have one for ages). Visiting the settlement and engaging the person involved will start a much shorter timer (and they WILL force you to talk to them if you get close enough). There doesn't appear to be any real indication in the game for how long you have to complete the actual mission, so be prepared to go and do the quest immediately.

This is based on my observations that two of three settlement-helping quests were still fine when I hadn't visited the related settlements, but the third quest failed a while after I had visited its settlement and talked to the person who needed help. And much later, I finally saw a very fast message telling me I was running out of time to talk to a specific settlement which must have been the oldest quest of this type.

Do not leave weapons, armor, and power armor useable at settlements!

Unless you want random settlers getting in the power armor and using it (especially during raid defense), make sure you remove the fusion core from any suits you aren't using yourself. NPCs elsewhere can also "steal" your power armor if you leave it unattended with an active fusion core. As for weapons and armor, I'm not sure about armor but settlers and enemies will definitely pick up any weapons they find lying around. Always store your things at settlements inside containers that can only be accessed by clicking on the container menu (aka don't use a bucket or a shelf where the item is still technically in the open).

Weapons lag while changing weapons with favorite keys.

This is one that needs patched, as changing weapons via the Pip-Boy still works as quickly as expected. Using favorites appears to eventually become glitched to have a delay, sometimes a very long delay which locks out any ability to use a weapon (except for your fists if you are lucky and can get the game to respond at all). Searching forums seems to show that reverting to an old save will fix it, but there's only so much of that I personally am willing to do. So, if you don't want to be constantly checking to see if the weapon-lag glitch has hit you, be prepared for it to set in at some point. Once that happens, and when it's crucial to change weapons quickly, use the Pip-Boy interface to change weapons instead of using favorites via number keys.

A settlement I am allied with keeps getting attacked by raiders!

Contrary to information I found elsewhere (the game or forums, I'm not sure), keeping defense points "close to" resource points is not good enough. Keep your defense points equal to or preferably higher than your resource points. In theory this should keep settlements from being attacked at all, or at least it's worked for me with Sanctuary as of 70 hours into the game.

I've seen one "help defend x settlement failed" quest message show up randomly, and sadly it is very easy to miss the message that the settlement is under attack, espcially if you are already in the middle of a battle elsewhere. That settlement's defense points were one less (11) than the total resource points (12, combining the values of food, water, and power). After plopping down an extra turret, all has been quiet there.

Update: It wasn't all that much later that Sanctuary did finally get attacked one random time I arrived, by super mutants no less. With proper defense numbers at settlements, attacks seem to happen when I arrive at a settlement and very rarely happen when I am not there.

Severe FPS issues indoors / FPS issues in general.

I'm running an older graphics card, so this is especially notable on my machine (and it's just the card, the rest of the system is fine for this game). The following two fixes helped me even though they're generally meant for better cards, so I'm linking to them here:

How To Fix MouseLag Issue In Fallout 4 and Achieve 80FPS-120FPS at Max Settings and FXAA - Note that the "NVidia logo" they're talking about on the desktop is found via right-clicking the destop. It's the "NVIDIA Control Panel" listed in that menu.

Reddit fix for FPS drop indoors - because certain effects used more indoors than out will cause pretty much everyone to have FPS drop indoors.

Supply lines do NOT share food and water resources between settlements, but may give the illusion that they do.

Supply lines only connect workshops in each settlement, giving the ability to use stored components in one settlement that are technically located in another settlement. The "illusion" of food and water resources being shared comes from some 90 hours of personal gameplay, where the food/water resource numbers would be in the green after I started a supply line (often with the first settler to arrive at a new settlement), without having any actual plants or water available or tended.

I think what happened was, resource meters may count harvested food/veggies and bottles of purified water as actual resources, even though it doesn't make the numbers go up; it just turns them green and happiness goes up as if there were proper resources. Once I finally pulled all the purified water out of the workbench at one of the settlements, the water number there showed red and happiness began going down. It's possible that the supply lines count food and water items in any workbench along the connected supply lines a well.

I have a feeling this stored-resource concept was not intended by the devs and may get patched out, because it definitely creates confusion for how supply lines work. I am also not sure if settlers use a certain amount of that stored food every day, to make up for the lack of actual water pumps, plants, etc. I just know that I wasted hours turning one settlement into a water-producing mammoth, and another into a food-producing haven, only to finally realize it wasn't actually sharing those numbers across the map.

TL;DR: Make sure each settlement has their own personal water and food supply in numbers matching (or exceeding) the population of that settlement.

Maximum settler population per settlement is 10 plus your charisma.

So if you have 10 charisma, you can have 20 settlers in a settlement. If you have 5 charisma, you can have 15 settlers in a settlement. I have not tested wearing charisma gear with my 10-charisma character to see if I can push max population past 20, mostly because there's no real point to having hundreds of settlers to manage between all the settlements. Plus, I have no idea if taking off charisma gear after successfully recruiting more people would make them leave again.

Junk items fail miserably for use as decorations!

This is seriously disappointing, and I doubt we'll see a patch to fix it unless the devs feel particularly merciful. Basically, I have only seen one vase in one settlement successfully stay on a table after leaving and coming back later (the vase was already on the table but I moved the table and then had to put the vase back on it; the vase had a flower in it so perhaps somehow it is a "true" decor item). Most of the time, items will fall through whatever surface they've been set on as soon as you get a good distance away from the settlement, or wind up "lost" until you find them lying in a weird spot elsewhere in the settlement.

What happens to the unused components of a junk item that the workshop used part of?

They go in the workshop. The workshop inventory has some delay showing that the extra components are actually there, but entering build mode and then exiting it again immediately will force the workshop inventory list to update faster.


More to come as I find the worst of the problems. This was last updated: November 22, 2015.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fallout Shelter vault progress: Megavault and Isolation Challenge

This game helped keep me sane during some pretty bad migraine issues over the last month, and still proves to be entertaining, so it deserves a shoutout. I play it on my Android tablet, and while I could whine up a storm about the problems it has (crappy touch controls, dwellers bunching together and dying because I can't click them to heal them, revived dwellers being put on coffee break and ignoring their room assignments, dwellers constantly being unselected by deaths of others / starts or endings of incidents / rushes succeeding / a butterfly flapped its wings in the Amazon, incidents zooming into rooms and lagging out the game, numerous graphical glitches, etc.), it still passes time quite well. So, without further ado...

I present the Megavault, aka Lag City:

Room rundown, all of which have maxed upgrades unless noted:

Vault door: two level 50 guards on duty
Residences, single: 17 (2 are stage 2 upgrade, max allowed aka 200 dwellers)
Nuclear reactors, triple: 11
Nuclear reactors, single ("rush spam incident room"): 1
Nuka cola plants, triple: 4
Medlabs, triple: 2
Medlabs, double: 2
Science labs, triple: 2
Science labs, single: 2
Radio rooms, triple: 4
Gardens, triple: 2
Water purification, triple: 2
Storage, triple: 4
Storage, single: 8
Training rooms, triple: 2 for Luck, 1 for each of the other stats
Elevators: enough to permanently cease molerat incidents
"The Basement": 6 triple power rooms in various stages of upgrades to complete objectives; they are rebuilt and upgraded as needed. These are now completely unmanned, dwellers shown there in the screenshots have been moved to guard residences between the training rooms to keep radroach outbreaks from spreading all over.
Misc notes: bought 80 lunchboxes while they were massively on sale during the Android debut, plus three Mr. Handy 5-packs over time

All resource-generating rooms (except for the basement) are fully-staffed.

General information:
Vault number: 13
Date started: approx. Sept 6, 2015
Population: 190
Caps: 999,999
Caps maxed: 11am EST Oct 6, 2015
Highest caps seen (because it's glitchy): 1,000,599
Gun/Outfit storage: 410
Stimpack storage: 105
Radaway storage: 85
Raiders make it to: vault door room
Deathclaws make it to: first floor single reactor

As for SPECIAL stats, the entire first floor and the far-right nuclear reactor on the second floor all have 10 strength, 10 endurance, and 10 luck (some stats are filled in by gear, some gear pushes them over those numbers); they also have the highest-damaging weapons in the vault and are at or near the max level of 50. The guards in the vault door room and the first-floor storage room are level 50. Until I added the guards in the storage room, deathclaws tended to make it to the second-floor right-hand nuclear reactor.

The SPECIAL stats for every other resource-generating room are whatever the room requires, plus luck, at 10 (including gear, some of which pushes dwellers past 10). There are two exceptions, one of which is the triple storage rooms which have level 50 guards that were pulled from nuclear reactors and replaced by other dwellers (therefore those guards have 10 strength and 10 luck, since staffing storage rooms doesn't actually seem to do anything). The other exception is the radio rooms, where the dwellers have 10+ charisma with gear but I ignored luck in case it brings newbie survivors in faster and that is the last thing I need. I wish it were possible to turn that option off for radio rooms... this vault surely has a reputation for being a bottomless deathtrap at this point.

The radios keep happiness high, and while doubling the original two triples I had definitely made a notable difference to get happiness closer to 100%, it also attracts more newbie survivors who are useless to me. I used to kill them off in the "incident room" single nuclear reactor on the first floor, but now I use one of the single science labs because the entire first floor is set up with guards and I got tired of moving them.

For quite a while, many floors were devoted to training rooms. I had roughly half my population in training while half worked to keep resources flowing, along with leveling up. All the dwellers except for the dream team are now done training.

My "dream team" is eight favorite characters (mine and a friend's original characters plus Richard B. Riddick, as best the game could duplicate them) who are completely maxing out their stats at 10, not counting gear. I intend to use them for creating a few more dweller children (update: bah, two kids in a row had the same crappy stats as any other level 1 newbie, sad... so ends the era of babymaking), seeing if they have notably better luck in the wasteland, and probably taking over guard/working positions on the first floor. The only other dweller with maxed stats (including gear) is Hannibal Lecter, and he spends his time in the wasteland for long stints.

And for shiznits and giggles, here is the isolation vault challenge I've been working on after paring down a previous vault to 13 dwellers... Vault 666:

I won't bother with a room breakdown since the vault is still in progress, plus the screenshot montage is fairly crappily-done. But the general idea is proving interesting, and I do wonder if I'll have enough room to get population to the magic deathclaw number of 60... kind of hoping not, although by then I should have enough single-person medlabs churning out stimpacks to keep the initial set of guards alive. I also have no idea how deep the deathclaws might go, nor what path they will take at the crossroads between power rooms and residences.

Anyways, the general idea is elsewhere on the internet, that an isolation vault has rooms with only one person, and they never meet. I have further fine-tuned the concept into more rules, like how no set of adjoining rooms will have more than one dweller for the entire set (the ones on the far-right side), and how most rooms are stacked kitty-corner to each other (stops incidents from spreading to other rooms). Very low-level dwellers can escape to a safe, empty room to avoid incidents, but decent-level dwellers must stay in their room and see the incident to its end.

Maybe someday I'll fill in all the dirt borders around rooms with elevators, but if so, that's an expense I am not looking forward to. I want to see how the dwellers handle molerats before I decide on that, and I like the clean look of the current setup. There will be one more diner and one more water room on the upper-middle tier when population requires it, and most likely more once I dig that tier lower. If I get far enough in population, those rooms will become gardens and water purification plants, possibly even Nuka Cola plants but I doubt my population will get high enough.

There is a version of Hannibal Lecter in this vault too, and he either controls the radio room to bring in new dwellers, or goes out into the wasteland to collect gear, to keep supply ahead of demand.

Something I noticed by taking apart the old vault (which I realized was fast becoming a boring version of the Megavault), is that at 13 dwellers, I had no raider attacks nor molerats even though I had rooms unlocked in build mode from initially having 50 dwellers. It seems population limits directly affect what spawns, and it's not a "no turning back" situation when you go past the magic number for specific incidents. (I believe 40 is molerats from what I've read elsewhere, and 60 for deathclaws; not sure about raiders but I think they finally showed up after I had 15 dwellers).

I feel like I'm forgetting something... par for the course. So yeah, that's my foray into Fallout Shelter. There pretty much is no endgame aside from upgrading dweller gear via wasteland runs and waiting for the last leveling dweller to hit 50. It's definitely a game where the journey is the point.

Oh, and you know those toys toddlers have, the noisy ones that "magically" break, or have the batteries removed in the dead of night and, oh, "they don't make batteries like that anymore"? This game is totally that, for adults.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Soma Edition

SPOILERS. Massive spoilers for Soma. Yes indeed.

What six changes would I make to Soma to make it a worthwhile story? This would be just story changes, obviously I'd want the atmosphere fixed to be properly immersive and fitting of the horror genre, and various mechanics fixed/changed to make sense or have a proper explanation (monsters teleporting, the stupid color-separating vision crap when hurt, enough with the cheap jump scares, etc). But yes, this is about the story, and my six changes to make it work:

1. The entire story about the comet destroying the surface world is exactly that: a story. Something Catherine made up to fool other people in Pathos-II, and now you.

2. The structure gel is a deep-sea discovery with unexpected properties (possibly including an eons-old intelligence of some sort), not a human creation. It thus corrupted WAU, which was a decent AI for life support systems before the structure gel got ahold of it.

3. How you end up specifically in Reed's body gets explained properly at some point in the game. Example: she was stuck in a dying robot body and tried to resurrect herself in her old body, failed because her scan was corrupted, and desperately loaded any scan she could find into her body instead... which is you.

4. The ARK is a fairy tale and actually an attempt for WAU to get to the upper atmosphere and infect the surface world via weather patterns, or something along those lines.

5. Catherine's brain scan has been incorporated into WAU to become the main villain, but the version helping you is pretending to be on your side, and lying to you about pretty much everything. There would be bigger hints the further you get into the game that she is screwing you over.

6. The player character is not Simon, and can in fact be a silent protagonist... or at least someone who is not a complete trusting idiot.

And it goes without saying that the game should not be a goddamned dream and there should be no obvious hints to insinuate that it is a dream. I don't know if that counts as an honorable mention or what... but anyways, there we have it. My six changes, and the plot that I was actually hoping was going on as I played the game (not counting throwing Simon's character out entirely because the game sticks you with him whether you like it or not).

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Soma: A bit of a diatribe. Just a wee, teeny, tiny... massive diatribe.


Seriously, this entire post is all spoilers, along with thin threads of theories that may or may not be correct. I am also writing this from the perspective of having played through it twice and watched a couple Let's Plays on YouTube (edit: and I've added a few things since the original posting which only make the game that much more of a plot hole that is so vast it's trying to form a singularity). Lastly, this is long. Like, really, really long. Grab-a-cup-of-coffee-and-hunker-down long. But I feel it needs done, because this game is a huge disappointment and I wanted it to be good. I really did.

So, yes, Soma... where to start. Let's go with the interesting part: Reed. Everything else is a badly-written mess, but we'll get to that later.

So, Reed, tell us your story. For those who have played the game through, you know that Simon (the main character who you play) inhabits Imogen Reed's body for most of the game. Reed was a woman stationed at Theta, someone Catherine had a thing for but it appears Reed wasn't interested. That makes Reed the only likable character in the game, in my opinion, because Catherine is a Runt with a capital C. Sadly, you technically never meet Reed.

With that in mind, how exactly did Reed's mostly-headless body get into the pilot seat room in Upsilon, get optics jammed into it for a faux-head, and structure gel thrown in to mesh the entire thing together? Was she wearing the suit when she died, or was that put on afterwards? The helmet would have had to be put on after the optics were put in. The door was locked, computer systems locked down, the only accessible omnitool in the area was elsewhere in the station, and the window had not yet been broken to provide access to the hall. What the heck happened to bring the first scene into existence in the first place?

Let's have a look at the pilot seat room, where Simon arrives in the seat via being resurrected from a brain scan:

Dark much? This is at the lighting level recommended at the beginning of the game. Increasing the gamma just washes everything out, and is technically cheating. It also does not help this scene much. You also don't have access to the flashlight yet. But with the magic of Photoshop and levels, the room becomes quite clear:

Innnteresting. But this doesn't tell as much as it could without moving around the room a bit. Doing so, some things become more evident, even in the proper dark lighting settings of the game. In the image above, you can see what looks something like a vent on the right, blood on the floor below it, and the blood trail leads to the chair:

Like so. And what is that thing on the floor near the chair? Let's have a look, with the levels turned up again.

Huh... where have we seen something like this before? Err... later in the game?

Hah, Catherinebot! Not exactly the same, but similar. There's no real indication on either 'bot how they got around, and the dead 'bot isn't about to tell you. Neither is Catherine, who is useless in that respect. She's useless in a lot of ways, but I digress.

So, back to the initial pilot seat room. There are two suits missing, one of which should be yours, with Reed's body in it, some electronics stuck into the remains of her head, and structure gel somehow molding all of "you" together. Catherine explains the concept later... odd that she would know how you were made, isn't it?

'Kay, all well and good, but where is the other suit missing from the pilot seat room? I do believe it is in the room with the omnitool, which you find in another part of the station after breaking out of the pilot seat room. Here's the second suit in the back of the room where the omnitool is found, with levels jacked slightly to see better:

Odd that it's missing its head. Was this a failed first attempt to start unraveling whatever the heck is going on in the game? Simon's duty is clearly something along those lines. Pretty much all you do at many points in the game is mess up work done by previous residents of the stations to keep WAU-critters from moving between areas. Yeah yeah, later on you get involved in the ARK business, but a friend of mine has (or read) a good theory that you and Catherine are basically the antagonists in the game. Either way, here we've found the other suit in the omnitool room. Whatever was going on there clearly did not work out.

Later on you get a better look at Reed's body in the scanner in Theta's medical wing, which Catherine gives you a truly ridiculous reason for getting into (so she can figure out what you're made of to better work on a way to transfer you into the ARK... you're a brain scan, that's all that ever seems to matter in reality).

Here you can see that about a quarter to a third of Reed's head actually survived, leaving the lower jaw or at least part of it, and some tissue and maybe some lower skull. Gotta wonder what happened to this chick, and where exactly she died. The bodies much later in Omicron have either entire heads exploded, or a fatal wound on one side as is the case with the person in the power-restoration tower outside Omicron.

Was Reed near Omicron when everyone's heads exploded? If so, why? She was stationed at Theta. Omicron was quarantined before the head-explody incident too, though I couldn't find a reference to how long it was between lockdown and head-explody time.

Now, let's jump all the way back to the pilot seat room for the last shreds that possibly bring together Reed's story. The monitor near the pilot seat gives information on the pilot's chair, when the room is powered on.

Clicking the "In Progress" button gives you a scrolling mess of code that actually has English words in it, in capital letters. The trick is to either be able to read like lightning (I didn't even notice the words on my first playthrough), or take screenshots like I did when investigating the room properly (second playthrough). It's very hard to get the initial bit of code, but what I got from the screenshots is as follows, with slashes where the screenshot breaks were (where I might have missed some words):


Did Reed try to bring herself back in her own body and not just in some 'bot? Was she done with the nonsense and instead loaded Simon into the suit? Did Catherine try to load Reed into the body, fail, load Simon, die somehow, and a new scan of her (or the one from the pilot seat room if that was her) emerged in Lambda? Was Reed's brain scan too damaged to use anymore? Was wannabe-doctor David Munshi's scan used at some point? Was he the first suit now headless in the omnitool room? Did the WAU engineer the whole thing, trying to put Reed back into her body but failing and so using Simon's legacy scan instead, because it was one that WAU could find? The terminal in Theta with Simon and David's legacy scans clearly has WAU all over it, so that's most likely how any of the old scans got from Theta to Upsilon.

There is another set of code similar to the one in the Upsilon pilot seat, tied to the suit where Herber's body is over at Omicron. The words I pulled from the screen shots there are:

RESTORE DECEASED REVERSE STOP DEATH REMAIN ALIVE PAIN (and a lot of repeats of RESTORE and a few of the others)

It's unclear exactly what either set of code really means or is meant to represent, but the one from Omicron has nobody's names in it that I could find. That's another one where it's hard to get the beginning screenshotted. The words in the Omicron code at least seem to follow the general idea of Upsilon's, except it may have realized Herber's body is dead and be trying in vain to return her to life.

So... that's Reed's story, if I have threaded together very thin connections to form the correct theory (there's a little more, but I reference it later and I'd rather keep it out of this section). If I did theorize correctly, it took digging with a proverbial ice pick to find it. It's potentially one shred of good writing, though there are still a lot of questions left, and some of it may have been lost to the game getting hodgepodged together by the developers appearing to splice together at least two stories that don't match up at all.

Let's dive into that now...

There are two WAU stories.

Story 1: The WAU is an AI that is entirely uninterested in human concepts like desire, love, hate, etc. It infects but perhaps does not control everything around it, in an attempt to follow its programming to "preserve humanity." It does not think like humans, it is just a process. Its process makes it appear as a cancer, because its definition of "humanity" is a machine definition, one that cannot be predicted by humans. It is technically preserving humanity by trapping human bodies and transforming them into something that will remain for eternity, while the minds within the bodies live forever in WAU-controlled dreams. Basically, The Matrix, minus the concept of using human body heat as energy.

Story 2: The WAU is an AI with some sort of human-like emotions or processes that we would call human emotions, enough for it to get attached to specific individuals (Ross) and desire to stop any attempts to end its own existence (killing Herber and almost all of Omicron, which goes directly against its orders to preserve humanity).

It's entirely possible in either version that WAU was experimenting on the wildlife in order to better figure out how to preserve humans. Some of the wildlife reacted so badly to WAU that humans were killed during the TAU evacuation, and Ross was eventually killed by wildlife (best theory, anyways) at or near the climber.

One thing is clear: WAU freaked out about Ross dying. Had it grown attached to him? He was the AI psychologist assigned to Site Alpha, where the WAU's central core is housed, according to notes left throughout the game. If it got attached to him, then it is manifesting something very like a human emotion or connection.

Did WAU not form a connection with Ross, but instead feel at fault for his death for purely logical reasons, aka uncontrolled WAU-infected wildlife killing him? That could be a reason for it trying desperately to revive him, but its efforts to do so put the rest of Omicron's staff in danger, physically harming them to the point that people had severe headaches, ringing in their ears, dreams of some sort, sleep problems, and some were literally bleeding out of their eyes. What if someone had killed themselves to end the pain, or gone insane and killed several people? Would WAU realize that any such deaths would be its fault as well? If WAU used logic to blame itself for Ross's death, it failed logic in hurting the rest of Omicron in order to revive Ross.

Also, Ross clearly hates the WAU enought to kill it now, and he didn't like it even before he died. There are indications he wanted to get away from working at Site Alpha in his logs. By the time Simon gets to Omicron, Ross had already tried to get Herber to go poison WAU (which instead got almost everyone in Omicron killed off by WAU overloading their blackboxes to explode heads). Ross now tries to get Simon to go poison WAU, and thus the game proceeds to send you off to do that, amidst working towards the ARK project goal.

Urgh. Let's move on to another indication there are at least two stories.

There are two Catherine stories.

Story 1: Catherine never felt at home in her own skin as a human, and comes across as creepy to at least one other member of station crew. Someone who may be a psychologist in Theta's medical wing spoke of Catherine as being very closed-off. Catherine is often cold to Simon, randomly apathetic (whines that Theta is too far away and doesn't feel comfortable with you carrying her around in the omnitool), and even completely useless many times. Simon asks her for better than she's giving him in the power tower outside Omicron, and all she has for him is "Good luck?" Yet, weirdly enough, the moment he goes upstairs to poke around for clues, she suddenly wants to know where he went... which leads us to...

Story 2: Catherine is very human, sometimes vulnerable and insecure, and cares very deeply about the ARK project. She was spurned by Reed and it affected her so much that she made the vivarium that you find in Catherine's quarters, in order to make a virtual or projected version of Reed. Catherine will stop at nothing to convince you to do anything possible to recover the ARK and get it launched, because she believes it is the only way to save anything of humanity (note that she and her ARK greatly mirror WAU and its dream-sleep). She also tells you of an entirely human experience she had on the roof of her home in China. In the power tower, she has a bit of a deep discussion with you about what it means to be human, and touches on the same line of discussion elsewhere in the game.

Basically, Catherine waffles bad. Perhaps she is meant to be written as unstable, but the whole package does not come off as believable. She's cheery and upbeat one minute, then distant and useless the next. It's difficult to tell if she woke up in her robot body (in the room in Lamdba where you find her later) just as you connect the radio right outside Upsilon's thermal plant room, or if she has been awake for longer.

I mentioned the vivarium in Catherine's quarters, let's check that out now. Simon says it looks like a projector, and through shreds of what Catherine says in response to various cues in the room, it appears the vivarium had to do with Reed. Personal logs reveal that the WAU copied the vivarium, and the WAU's version simulated Reed in a virtual version of the scan room. Catherine then reverse-engineered the WAU's vivarium-copy, in order to create the method of transferring people's brain scans into the ARK. So basically, Catherine and WAU traded ideas back and forth more so than she probably wants you to realize.

From left to right: Catherine's original vivarium, the WAU's copy, and something Catherine describes as "part of Reed's vivarium." (The far right object in the back is just clothing on the edge of the bed, and yes, the levels on this screenshot are also jacked to see better.)

So, what was the original vivarium? I'm going to guess it was some kind of glorified porn-machine. Catherine clearly wanted to play with Reed, and real-Reed wasn't going to play. In fact, Catherine mentions that Reed's brain scan doesn't play nice with other scans during other tests related to the ARK. This is because Catherine says Reed is "too real" even in her scan.

So, WAU copied a porn toy, and Catherine copied WAU's improvements to eventually create the ARK and the method to scan people into it. WAU was already creating similar scans while people were using the pilot chairs to control robots around the station, indicated by hangover-like effects the pilots experienced just like when people got scanned for the ARK by Catherine. This is further reinforced when people's scans pop into random robots later, and WAU makes them think they are real people... right down to seeing real arms, hands, and bodies, not their true robot forms. Only the DUNBAT seems to know something is wrong, and screams that it's all Catherine's fault before crashing into a water outlet in Theta while Simon passes out.

Unfortunately, it's not 100% clear if computer-Catherine is independent of WAU, being manipulated by WAU, manipulating WAU herself, or has become some sort of bizarre Catherine-WAU hybrid who doesn't want you to realize the big picture is really, really dark and convoluted. WAU clearly has issues with Ross dying, which seems to mirror Catherine's obsession with Reed. Perhaps Catherine is the reason Reed's body gets any sort of scan loaded into it after all, and that's why Catherine is at Lambda instead of elsewhere. Lambda is closer to Upsilon than the other stations you visit later. Was she trying to get to you? A lot of what she says during initial radio conversation is vague and evasive. Hell, she's almost always evasive and any legitimate information she gives you (outside of the bare minimum she needs for you to keep your ass moving toward her goal), she probably only gives by accident.

Now, let's talk about the structure gel. The structure gel is implied to have been created by humans, so it is not some deep-sea discovery (which would be much more interesting). It is described as being "crosslinked gel with aligned graphene in a polyunsaturated matrix." A person named Eames at Omicron can create it as needed. Logs state that it was WAU that used the gel in ways humans never thought possible, because WAU is a machine AI. There is a pure version of some sort that you have to get during the mission to transfer yourself to Herber's suit, and there is the WAU version that contaminates the stations, people, wildlife, etc. The exact way the WAU uses its version of the gel is unclear, and leads us to another divergence.

There are two structure gel stories.

Story 1: WAU fully controls anything infected by its version of the structure gel. This can be seen with creatures that want to stop you from interfering with WAU's sleep-trapped humans. The first healing node you can use audibly begs you not to, so it would seem WAU is fully sentient, present, and paying attention all over every instance of itself.

Story 2: WAU infects but does not control things with its version of the gel. It clearly has no control over Ross, who looks very much like he is almost pure WAU-humanoid in the jump-scare flashes you get of him, and when he is standing along the route to Site Alpha... but then it's not clear where Ross actually is (more on that later). So, right, WAU infected the wildlife that indiscriminately killed people during the TAU evacuation, and also Ross later. This seems directly against WAU's programming to preserve humanity, so it implies the wildlife infected by WAU's gel were out of control. Also, with the WAU being everywhere, the bits all over walls and corridors should easily be able to tell the creatures it corrupted, "Hey, Simon is hiding over here!" but it never does.

Perhaps WAU simply decides which creatures it wants to control and which it doesn't, but the choices feel too arbitrary to make a finished story. And then there's Akers... another big mess, and another big question mark when it comes to WAU's control over its subjects.

Akers is either following WAU's manipulations or he is 100% crazy, made up all the stuff about WAU leading him to the light, and... no... that doesn't really work either, due to him being the ickydude in the medical wing of Theta. It has to be him, because he's the most "present" of the mutants in Theta while the rest downstairs seem to be the proxies referred to by others. He also still has his arms. Not only does he make things difficult for you in the medical wing, but he can clearly get downstairs (so much for Brandon's self-sacrifice) where he grabs you when you go down the scripted hallway towards the stairs. He puts you into WAU's dream-sleep goo, and it's only the elevator literally crashing and burning that wakes you up at all. So, Akers is technically doing exactly what WAU wants: jamming people into goo so they can be preserved in dreams forever.

Let's ditch that dead end and go back to Ross, because he's mildly interesting, if just as frustrating in the end. You first hear from him if you connect to Omicron via Upsilon's radio in the comm center before contacting Catherine at Lambda. Ross tells you, "Kill yourself. There's nothing left to live for." (And if you call Theta, you get Stratsky who says, "There's something better here. It's here." ...but he's a decomposing corpse under the power tower at Omicron where he drowned himself. It's possible he's the voice in the DUNBAT but if so, it's powered off when you get there and also quarantined.) For the rest of the interesting bits, we'll skip on to Omicron itself.

Ross's body may be outside Herber's dispatch room in Omicron. That's the room with Post-It notes of bizarre drawings including WAU's core, and scrawled messages about taking the poison gel to Alpha, plus audio recordings of Herber making and receiving various calls. The body right outside the door, aka potential-Ross, has the least amount of WAU infection. In fact, there are only a few thin tentacles on the wall behind it, and a splash of plain-looking gel on the floor right beside it.

The body's chest innards are exposed, and it looks very much like it might be an android. Could this be Ross's body in its rebuilt state after WAU bombarded it with electrical frequencies and radiation from gel outgrowths in the containment room? If so, the Ross jumpscares could be a bizarre psychic projection, since he is also talking to you via on-screen text glitches when you read computer screens in Omicron. He is also most likely the one who glitches the secondary monitor in the power tower outside, giving you the four-digit code to override the station's quarantine lockdown for the outer doors.

But... if that is Ross... why is the resurrected version injured and doing nothing where it sits in the hallway? It does still appear to be alive, in some sense. Its head is also not exploded. Neither is the head of the human trapped in one of the hallways, the human that gets up later to stand in the medbay and gank you in the tunnel to the dive room if you don't run fast at the right moment. Also, that floor-trapped human became one of what I like to call the "WAU banshees" awfully damned fast. If you complete areas as quickly as possible like I did on the second playthrough, it's inexcusable how fast it is unless the transformation is supposed to be almost instant. I mean, look at these things (levels jacked again to see details), that's some pretty drastic changes:

There are at least three people inside Omicron whose heads are not exploded: maybe-Ross-android-guy, WAU banshee number one (in the power room where you get the battery pack), and WAU banshee number two (in the medbay, most likely the guy on the floor in the hall who has vanished when you get back there). As a weird side-note, the headless dive-suited body in the very first room you explore in Omicron moves from slouched against the wall to draped over the bench by the lockers, while you are busy doing stuff upstairs. So, can WAU control those bodies too?

WAU not killing off Ross is a given, since it struggled so hard to bring him back in the first place; however, he's immobilized, so perhaps it finally realized he was trying to kill it, but it still can't seem to end his psychic projections to Simon... if that's what's going on.

So who are the other two people? Why did they make it? Did they not have blackboxes, or did they pull them off in time (they're implants, good luck there)? Were they incapacitated instead of killed, so that the WAU could turn them into guardians? The banshees seem very upset, weeping desperately with hands over their eyes when you stay still. One even seems to tell you to leave her alone in the power room, if you get too close, but that may be something you overhear like with the dream-sleep humans WAU has trapped.

There is one last strange body in Omicron, in the power room. He seems to still be alive, in a sense, but probably missing his head since it seems to be merged or created from electronic components in the machine he is slouched back against. So here, WAU did its duty to preserve human life... sort of. If his head blew off like the others, then really the body is the only thing being preserved. Perhaps a too-literal interpretation of WAU's coded orders to preserve humans.

Let's have a quick look at Simon's character before I totally lose interest. He's forgettable. Badly written. Annoying. Way too trusting and doesn't question Catherine nearly enough, nor point out just how badly she waffles back and forth in her own personality. He is as unbelievable a character as she is. A silent protagonist would have been much better than Simon, either with text-inputs for responses to people... or nothing. Catherine would probably say just about the same things to you anyways, not counting the details she doesn't bother remembering correctly anyways (like how Simon is from Toronto, not Vancouver).

Sigh... I have three pages of notes on this nonsense, but I really don't want to write any more. The gameplay itself is lacking, and while the atmosphere can be tense on the first playthrough, my friend played it along with me via Skype and was not scared at all. Jump scares are cheap, and they're also badly-timed and horribly-triggered in this game, to the point you can miss them completely, or trigger one part and not another until you step on the perfect part of the floor to trigger the rest, completely breaking any immersion you managed to find. Monsters teleport with no reasoning given for how they can do so. They just do.

One jump scare out in open water is so poorly implemented, if you come at it from the far right of the map, you won't see it (but you will hear it) because the graphics for it are flat, one-sided (invisible from the back and sides) and literally facing towards the one direction the devs think you will be walking! That one also triggers badly, to the point that on my first playthrough I only saw the first scare directly ahead of me and missed the one that popped in behind me (duh). My friend saw nothing at all, and Cry in his YouTube Let's Play triggered it so far back, he saw both instances quite clearly.

On my second playthrough, I noticed the atmosphere was pretty much nonexistent. That just adds to the fact that the game has no replay value. The plot remains essentially the same and the entire ending is exactly the same. Here's the only real differences before leaving Site Alpha, whereafter nothing you do changes anything at all:

Apartment email choice A: You can choose whether or not to send the email to tell the guy at your store that you won't be in, due to your scheduled scan. If you send it, you get a nicer phone call from him during the subway scene. You can choose to ignore the phone call all together. This changes nothing, aside from you missing the conversation during the call.

Apartment email choice B: If you choose not to send the email, you get a meaner version of the call on the subway. Again, you can ignore it, and doing so changes nothing aside from missing the conversation during the call.

Carl choice A: You can choose to continually fry Carl in order to power the door switch to the Comm Station in Upsilon A. If you turn off the current after a while, you will note that he seems particularly addled and no longer quite with it. You can leave him frying indefinitely and won't be able to get back to him after the Comm Station door locks behind you. Aside from ethical implications, the only thing this does is avoid having to deal with the stompy-bot that spawns from making the other choice.

Carl choice B: You can leave Carl happy in his delusion for the moment, and pull the switch in the Flow Control room instead. This will essentially kill him by cutting off the power to him completely. You will also spawn a stompy-bot that makes it harder to get into the Comm Station. So the big difference in this set of choices is: pretty much nothing, both choices are ethically bad, but throwing the Flow Control switch makes it harder to progress to the next plot point. It's also weird that the game punishes you for killing Carl by giving you a stompy-bot only in that scenario, because at least in my opinion, shutting him down is the lesser of two evils compared to leaving him stuck in a robot body being electrocuted for an indefinite amount of time (since you can never go back and check after the Comm Station door locks behind you).

Amy choice A: You can leave one power line active by pulling the top one only, and Amy remains alive. This only changes one thing in the shuttle, giving you a warning (I forget what exactly, probably something safety-related). The shuttle still runs properly and you still crash at the same exact spot because the tunnel doesn't get any less f0rked just because you didn't kill Amy.

Amy choice B: Pull both power lines and Amy dies. The shuttle controls all light up happily with no warnings. You still crash as per usual.

(As an aside, you can actually choose to go to a station other than Lambda like Catherine expects. You will get a different introduction video related to the station you chose to go to, but will still crash in the exact same spot because the tunnel is only ever messed up in the same location. It's also possible to completely miss Catherine's call right after that, if you ignore the ringing intercom and go explore the end of the tunnel first.)

Zeppelin chip choice A: You can choose to use the stun gun to kill the robot that most likely has a human brain scan running in it, the one that rambles on and on about random work-related stuff and doesn't much seem to acknowledge your existence. Doing so bothers Simon and he complains to Catherine about how the robot seemed present, in a sense. She blows it off. The zeppelin still powers up just fine and sends you to Theta.

Zeppelin chip choice B: You can instead choose to stun-kill the adorable little helper-bot that's gotten you through sticky situations at various points in the game; you won't actually see him again if you leave him alive, so it is technically a valid choice... it's just the choice I like less, partly because my friend dubbed him Michaelbot after one of my original characters, but also the 'bot is probably the best surviving anything in the game. When you tell Catherine about it, she pretends to be shocked because the K-8 unit is "so cute!" and then laughs and says she's kidding, that they're "dumber than rocks." Real nice, Catherine. Up yours. *ahem* Anyways, same diff, zeppelin works and off you go to Theta.

Stored scan data choice A: You can choose to erase various brain scans in Theta, including your own legacy scan and Brandon Wan's scan you got the cipher from. Doing so makes any scans referenced later at the ARK prototype inaccessible.

Stored scan data choice B: Leaving the scans intact at Theta makes them list as accessible for the ARK prototype, but Catherine tells you that you can't use legacy scans for the test she wants to run. You still have to run the dummy scan as per usual. This is very disappointing, and essentially leaves you with no reward for making a "good" ethical choice. Then again, perhaps it is an "evil" ethical choice for leaving scans behind for WAU to play with. And the biggest problem with this set of choices is that when you have scan data to test, Catherine says the legacy scans won't work. This creates one of the worst plot holes in the game if you connect the dots: would a legacy scan work in the ARK at all? Would Simon ever be able to enter the ARK? Does Catherine realize this and brush it off quickly? But as the end of the game proves, Simon does make it onto the ARK... sort of. The writers are either doing massive amounts of handwaving, or didn't notice a direct conflict in their own lore. The straightest plot-hole fill-in would be to blindly state that the dummy scan is the only one she can run the test with, because "reasons." That's not good enough for me. Why can't Catherine use a legacy scan of Simon or David or anybody else still in the system for the exact same test? Why doesn't Simon notice the discrepancy, aside from being written as "dumber than rocks," to steal Catherine's words from elsewhere?

First-suit Simon choice A: You can choose to kill the version of Simon you left behind in the first suit, after you transfer to the deep-dive suit containing Herber's body. Choosing to power down his battery kills him in his sleep.

First-suit Simon choice B: Choosing to leave first-suit Simon alive does nothing. You never meet nor hear from him again... nevermind that you pretty much render Tau's dive room inoperable when you leave it, so after that point there may not even be a way to go back to anywhere you've been before. When the game ends craptastically with you all alone without even dumbass Catherine anymore, you are probably well and truly frogged.

Lindwall choice A: She asks you to kill her. Shut down her life support like she asks, and she dies. This changes: absolutely nothing. Except that you killed the last surviving true human on the planet. Go you.

Lindwall choice B: Maybe she deserves to live on in the hell she's created by standing around while the real Catherine got killed, essentially trapping the ARK on earth. Leave Lindwall alive... this changes: absolutely nothing. Oh, right, she says something to the effect of, "I'll be here if you need me," if you send the ARK downstairs and walk all the way to the exit while her life support is still on. Ooh. Epic. *yawn*

Poison choice A: If you choose not to poison WAU's core, Ross tries to force you to do so. The wormfishthing kills him before he can, and you have a brief moment where you can actually decide to poison WAU anyways; whether you do or not, you must soon haul ass to get away from the wormfishthing. If you do not poison WAU's core even at the second chance to do so, you do not lose your hand.

Poison choice B: If you choose to poison WAU's core, it noms your hand off. Ross says it's working, then tries to kill you because he says you are the only thing immune to the poison and must be destroyed before WAU can get to you (even though you were carrying the poison in you, and Wau has your entire freaking hand so it can surely simulate an antidote from that). Ross is eaten by the wormfishthing before he can kill you, and you must run from it yourself. Catherine will be shocked at the state of your arm when she sees you next, and you can see the stump when you climb ladders. That's it. There is no direct evidence you can see yourself that you did anything at all to WAU, and the wormfishthing still makes the remainder of your run to Phi difficult. Uh... yay?

The rest of the game is pretty much linear, and I'm not just talking about Phi-onwards. As final proof that your actions do not matter, at the very end in the ARK when you can choose during the survey to die and be removed from the project, you are not killed. Don't get me wrong, I love a good linear game... key word: good. This game is not good. It's not even an acceptable waste of time. I want my 33 hours back. It's that bad. I'm lucky I didn't pay for it, but I feel bad one of my other friends gifted it to me on Steam... at least she got it during a minor sale, but still. The only reason I played it through with my other friend the first time was because at that point, it was sort of a challenge. Possibly watching-a-train-wreck syndrome. Or, "How bad can it get?" Oh. That bad. And then I played the damned thing again, trying to salvage anything of worth from it. Sigh.

The following screenshot is just sort of an extra, from early on in the game, but it's one of the few cool things and needs to be shown off. It's the robot in Upsilon that flips out and busts down a solid door for you, if you even notice the thing is missing when returning to his area when he makes a bunch of noise (you never see anything at all no matter how fast you try to get to it or follow it). This robot is really hard to see in-game, so I've jacked the levels to make it more visible. He's the one on the right:

And now we come to it, having exhausted everything else I care to regurgitate. The worst theory of all... a fanbase-theory that, if you didn't like the ending of ABC's LOST, you will really, really hate. Basically, that it's all a dream. And there is actually evidence of this, in the most unexpected place. That, or there is some seriously lazy modelling in the game. Here we go:

For the top image, we have a TV dinner in Simon's fridge, in his apartment. (His apartment also has a poster of outer space, and one of an underwater diver. There's a horror book in his nightstand related to an undersea story as well. More hints of a dream to come?) For the second image, we have the exact same meal taken from the Munchprint food processing device in Omicron's kitchen. I flipped the Omicron screenshot upside-down and changed the levels to make it more obvious that it's the exact same model. Apologies for the lack of clarity in the Omicron image, I was missing health and as per the game's mechanics, the more hurt you are, the worse your vision gets. This is a very bad thing in reality, because some people who tried playing the game experienced dangerous physical reactions to the vision mechanic. You can turn it off if you know what setting to tweak, but it was still a bad decision to include it at all.

So, kiss the entire plot goodbye. The whole discussion. The stories don't make sense thrown together like they are because it's all going on in Simon's brain, and the scan at the lab in 2015 put him into a coma. All the discrepancies, the teleporting that doesn't make sense, Ross's stupidity about your immunity to WAU's poison, and even poor Reed's thin threads of potential backstory... it's all faulty dream logic. It doesn't. Frogging. Matter.

Is that what I actually think about the overall story? That it was just a dream? I... don't actually care anymore. It's bad writing and bad game design by too many people trying to cram too many things into one story. That's how I'm categorizing it, and that's that. I still do like the tiny thread of potential Reed backstory I pieced together, almost like I found one good bit that one writer worked on, but it got obfuscated by the crap-heap that the rest of the game became.

What's really sad is, I pared down the 23 hours it took to run it the first time to about 10 the second time. The game is too easy, even the first time. I never healed during the replay, except for the first time it forces you to heal in order to teach you what heal-nodes are and won't let you progress until you try it. Aside from the challenge factor of not healing, I was testing a theory that others posed, about how monsters supposedly won't attack you if you have as little interaction with WAU as possible (aka don't heal up), and instead the monsters supposedly whine about wanting more gel. I did see one case of that with one of the deranged robots out in an open water area, but I wasn't sure if that was a timed thing and perhaps I left him behind quickly enough. There are only about two or three of those kinds of robots in the early stages of the game. Every other monster was still quite happy to eat my face if it caught me.

I wanted the game to be good. I really did. It's Frictional Games. Amnesia: The Dark Descent was great, and yes, linear. But as for Soma, only a tiny, thin, possibly nonexistent thread is even remotely interesting to me in this game, and that's Reed and the potential ties to the first room you wake up in at Upsilon. And the game's ending... ugh. Just plain ugh. I can appreciate a bad ending when it fits, but this was just plain stupid... wait... no... perhaps it was fitting. A garbage ending for a garbage game.

I'm sorry, Frictional, but I tell it like it is. You wrote too many stories and jammed them all into a box at the last minute, hoping nobody would notice. Too many people didn't, and are lauding this game as the best thing since sliced bread. That trend is very disturbing, because it is also present with monstrous disasters like Until Dawn, or as I like to call it, Wolf-Saving Simulator 2015. Seriously, the only reason to play that game is for the tiny bits involving the white wolf. In other words, skip Until Dawn entirely. Watch someone Let's Play it if you really want to. It's a too-long interactive movie with unrelatable characters and horrible gameplay, end of story.

Now, as for Soma? Watch Helloween4545 play it on YouTube, Helly doesn't sugar-coat. Don't pay for this game. Don't encourage crap writing, badly-implemented atmosphere, and cheap jump scares. This game is not horror. It's cyberpunk or sci-fi at best, with hints of psychological thriller thrown in to try and wedge its way into the horror genre.

To quote Simon: "All that hope, wasted."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sims 3 resort results, from tiny getaways to grand monstrocities

This is a bunch of resort results for the Sims 3 Island Paradise expansion. All resorts are currently running in the same game using the Isla Paradiso (fixed) world. It gives a good idea what to expect from small to large resorts, but note that I was not necessarily pushing for just a 5 star rating with these resorts. You can read my giganto-post of hints and tips amassed while building these resorts by clicking here.

Unless otherwise noted, these numbers reflect addressing complaints in reviews, and the resorts set up to maximize guest happiness (or upgraded from their pre-owned state to do so) were 5 stars long before the complaints stopped (so if you want to know roughly how many things like hot tubs a certain amount of people expect, this list will help give you a good idea). One thing I still get complaints on is roaches and cleanliness. There doesn't seem to be any good way to get rid of those complaints, because there's always somebody who seems to whine in reviews, probably because they couldn't stand the few seconds it took a Bonehilda or hired maintenance person to fix the problem.

Dollar (simoleon) amounts are approximate to simplify reading.

Resort name: Kiseki
Stars: 5
Capacity: 44
Location, lot size: La Costa Verde (pre-owned decent resort), 64x64
Lot value: $254K
Revenue: $11K / day
Made revenue on day: 1
Profit: $5.5K / day
Expenses: $1.5K / day
Quality: maximum
Hot tubs: 1
Pool bars: 1
Food stands: 1
Fire walks: 1
Bonehildas: 2
Maintenance: 1
VIP rooms: 2
VIP beds*: 4
Dining seats: 17
Pool (area in squares): 112
Ocean access on lot: no
Uniform style: Spanish style
Resort towers: 1 Spanish style
Notes: This is my fourth resort, the name means "miracle" in Japanese and is the surname of one of my original characters, Kaito Kiseki. I kept most of the original pre-owned resort and added improvements.

Resort name: Riddick Rise
Stars: 5
Capacity: 74
Location, lot size: Sparkling Sands (pre-owned decent resort), 64x64
Lot value: $308K
Revenue: $11K / day
Made revenue on day: 1
Profit: $11.5K / day
Expenses: $3.3K / day
Quality: maximum
Hot tubs: 2
Pool bars: 2
Food stands: 1
Fire walks: 2
Bonehildas: 1
Maintenance: 3
VIP rooms: 2
VIP beds*: 4
Dining seats:
Pool (area in squares): 158
Ocean access on lot: no
Uniform style: eco modern
Resort towers: 1 eco modern
Notes: This is my fifth resort, named after my favorite fictional character Richard B. Riddick (as played by Vin Diesel). I kept most of the original pre-owned resort and added improvements.

Resort name: House of Kaijin
Stars: 5
Capacity: 137
Location, lot size: 77 Paradise Road (originally empty), 64x64
Lot value: $438K
Revenue: $12.4K / day
Made revenue on day: 2
Profit: $13K / day
Expenses: $3.8K / day
Quality: maximum
Hot tubs: 4
Pool bars: 3
Food stands: 2
Fire walks: 3
Bonehildas: 2
Maintenance: 0
VIP rooms: 6
VIP beds*: 17
Dining seats: 40
Pool (area in squares): 304
Ocean access on lot: no
Uniform style: beach casual
Resort towers: 3 Spanish style
Notes: This is my first resort, and the one that taught me the most. It is named after the surname of my sniper-assassin-ninja original character Haiiro Kaijin, brother to one of the two household Sims (Yuujin Kaijin, Asian beauty) running this game. I built it completely from an empty lot.

Resort name: Lux Morgana
Stars: 5
Capacity: 144
Location, lot size: Hobart's Hideaway (pre-owned failing resort), 64x64
Lot value: $234K
Revenue: $12.2K / day
Made revenue on day: 1
Profit: $13K / day
Expenses: $3.7K / day
Quality: maximum
Hot tubs: 3
Pool bars: 3
Food stands: 2
Fire walks: 3
Bonehildas: 1
Maintenance: 1
VIP rooms: 3
VIP beds*: 6
Dining seats: 16
Pool (area in squares): 267
Ocean access on lot: yes
Uniform style: beach
Resort towers: 3 beach resort, 2 beach bungalow
Notes: This is my second resort, a tribute to the surname of the other household Sim running all of this nonsense (Jak Morgan, Caribbean hottie in dreads who got struck by lightning on the beach before the resort madness started). I scrapped almost all of the original pre-owned resort (just kept the VIP room on the dock) and built a better resort, including two more VIP rooms to match the one I kept. Due to complaints about the pool being too small, I added a basement with two pools (plus this lot spawns underground roaches so it was needed anyways).

Resort name: Ashen Isla
Stars: 5
Capacity: 592
Location, lot size: No Trouble Atoll, 60x60
Lot value: $709K
Revenue: $64K / day
Made revenue on day: 2
Profit: $67K / day
Expenses: $19.3K / day
Quality: maximum
Hot tubs: 12
Pool bars: 12
Food stands: 3
Fire walks: 12
Bonehildas: 2
Maintenance: 3
VIP rooms: 12
VIP beds*: 32
Dining seats: 28
Pool (area in squares): 525
Ocean access on lot: no
Uniform style: formal
Resort towers: 8 eco modern
Notes: This is my third resort, and the largest by far, named after Haiiro Kaijin's code name. I started with the empty lot and crammed it full of the biggest resort towers. I put most of the amenities and all the VIP rooms in two levels of basements. The only thing on the ground floor besides towers is a small room for the reception desk, a few fire pits with chairs, and a bunch of bamboo for plant-life points. This place definitely ended up needing to hire maintenance due to running so many resorts at once (six by the time the Bonehildas got really buggy) since trash and cleanliness problems piled up fast. This resort was also the biggest pain in the ass for complaints, especially pool bars and hot tubs. The guests are finally all happy about the quantities of everything... whiny bastards.

And for giggles, here's my test to see if a single beach bungalow resort with minimal amenities would get by (only the default two shifts for the front desk). The dollar amounts given for this resort are exact.

Resort name: Haiiro Hideout
Stars: 2.5 (saw 3 stars one day but it seems to stay around 2.5 stars)
Capacity: 9
Location, lot size: Beryl Shoals (small originally unimproved tropical island), 64x64
Lot value: $43K
Revenue: $180 / day
Made revenue on day: 1
Profit: $135 / day
Expenses: $90 / day
Quality: Affordable, front desk shifts day & night shifts only
Hot tubs: 0
Pool bars: 0
Food stands: 0
Fire walks: 0
Bonehildas: 1
Maintenance: 0
VIP rooms: 0
VIP beds: 0
Dining seats: 8
Pool (area in squares): 33, unchlorinated
Ocean access on lot: yes
Uniform style: standard
Resort towers: 1 beach bungalow
Notes: This is my sixth resort, and hey, look who it's named after! Sister misses her brother, methinks. I next want to try a flat lot with a similar test of a single beach bungalow (this lot is hilly and spawns underground roaches that can't be reached because you can't build basements under hills), to see what I can do within the limits of the one beach bungalow's profit for raising the star rating and still break even with amenities.

* VIP beds means total spots per person to sleep in the entire resort, not how many literal beds are in the rooms. Thus, there could be any variety of single or double beds depending on the layout of VIP rooms across the resort.

Celestial Eyeball Familiar (homebrew)

(Because I spent enough time on this... also cross-posted to tumblr. Get yer nerd on! Or don't. I vote nerd, but whatevs.)

Required feat to summon: Improved Familiar
Spellcaster level required to summon: 9th

Size/Type: Tiny Aberration (Beholderkin)
Hit Points: (half master's, rounded down)
Hit Dice: d8
Initiative: +7
Speed: Fly 20 ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 15 (+2 size, +3 Dex), touch 15, flat-footed 12
Base Attack: (master's)
Grapple: -7
Attack: Eye ray +(base attack +3 dex) ranged touch
Full Attack: Eye ray +(base attack +3 dex) ranged touch
Space: 2-1/2 ft.
Reach: 0 ft.
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft, flight, immune to blindness, celestial traits, visual acuity
Saves: Fort +?, Ref +?, Will +? (use Familiar rules)
Abilities: Str 5, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 9
Skills: Hide +15, Move Silently +15, Listen +3, Sense Motive +2, Search +4, Spot +4
Special Abilities: Smite Evil
Feats: Improved Initiative
Alignment: Neutral Good

Eyeballs are tiny (8-inch wide), four-stalked, wild beholderkin. Unlike others that often serve as familiars for evil spellcasters, the celestial eyeball is a unique creature that serves a good spellcaster. Eyeballs have 360-degree vision.

Skills and Special Qualities:

- Damage reduction as per celestial traits.
- Resistance to acid, cold, and electricity as per celestial traits.
- Spell resistance HD + 5, max 25.

Flight (Ex): The eyeball is naturally buoyant, able to fly with perfect maneuverability. Even if forced to fall, it never takes falling damage.

Visual Acuity (Ex): An eyeball beholderkin's central eye can see invisible and ethereal creatures normally, and may also see naturally through limited distances of solid matter as though it were wearing a ring of X-ray vision.

Eyeballs receive a +4 racial bonus to Search and Spot checks.

Special Abilities:

Smite Evil (Su)

Once per day a celestial creature can make a damaging spell deal extra damage equal to its HD (maximum of +20) against an evil foe.

Eye Rays (Su): Any one (but only one) of an eyeball's small eyes can produce a magical ray once per round as a standard action.

Each of an eyeball's four eye rays resembles a spell cast by a 1st-level caster, and follows the rules for a ray. Each eye ray has a range of 110 feet and a save DC of 11. The save DCs are Charisma-based. The four eye rays include:

- Daze

Type: Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Target: One humanoid creature of 4 HD or less
Duration: 1 round
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

This enchantment clouds the mind of a humanoid creature with 4 or fewer Hit Dice so that it takes no actions. Humanoids of 5 or more HD are not affected. A dazed subject is not stunned, so attackers get no special advantage against it.

- Fear

Type: Necromancy [Fear, Mind-Affecting]
Duration: 1 round
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

An invisible terror causes the target to become panicked unless it succeeds on a Will save. If cornered, a panicked creature begins cowering.

- Mage Hand

Type: Transmutation
Target: One nonmagical, unattended object weighing up to 5 lb.
Duration: Concentration
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

A visible object is lifted and moved at will from a distance. As a move action, the caster can propel the object as far as 15 feet in any direction, though the spell ends if the distance between the caster and the object ever exceeds the spell’s range.

- Ray of Frost

Type: Evocation [Cold]
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

A ray of freezing air and ice projects from the eye. The ray deals 1d3 points of cold damage to one target.

Homebrew notes:

~ Eye Rays spell DC calculation

I had to calculate it myself, so I started by looking at the DC for the beholder's version of Eye Rays, which is 17. Since the DC for beholders is a charisma check and the modifier from a beholder's charisma is +2, that leaves an unmodified DC of 15. Spell DC should be 10 + the level of the spell + the relevant ability, but the spell levels of the various things the beholder has in its Eye Rays choices are all over the place. It would seem an average was made for math's sake, ending up with 5th level spells to get the beholder's DC: 10 + 5(th level spells) + 2 cha = 17 DC. So, I looked up the spell level for every spell the beholder can cast with Eye Rays to see if it was averaged for the DC, then looked up the eyeball's spells to see how it would average by comparison. Here are my results in shorthand:

Beholder: 4 1 6 4 7 6 2 1 3 5 ...average: 39 / 10 = 3.9

Eyeball: 0 4 0 0 ...average: 4 / 4 = 1

Hmm... 3.9 is not 5. However, the number that turns 3.9 into 5 is 1.28 (plus a bunch more decimal places that aren't needed), like so: 3.9 x 1.28 = 5. So, substituting in the eyeball's average, we get: 1 x 1.28 = 1.28. Rounding down gives an end result of spell level of 1. That means an eyeball's spell DC is 10 + 1(st level spells) + 0 cha = 11.

As far as I can tell via the Familiar rules, the only way to improve the eyeball's spell DC is to give the eyeball some kind of charisma boost from a buff or the like.

~ Required spellcaster level:

I've seen recommendations for the normal (evil) eyeball to have a required spellcaster level of 7th in order to summon it with the Improved Familiar feat. I'll break down why I decided on 9th spellcaster level required for this version:

1) The celestial traits should add to the requirement for spellcaster level to summon.

2) I got rid of the "crown of eyes" attack other homebrews included because it seemed made-up and not based on the Forgotten Realms wiki definition of the eyeball. My version has the four correct eye ray abilities as per the Forgotten Realms wiki definition, but the DC is so low they will probably be often negated by Will saves at mid-to-high level play. So, I figure it evens things out, trading direct damage for a wider choice in spells. If you don't like this version, check the eyeball homebrews (linked below in references) and substitute Crown of Eyes for the entire Eye Rays list in this sheet.

3. Eyeballs are supposed to be evil, and thus not summonable by good characters. A celestial eyeball has to be good as per the celestial rules. So, this adds to the requirement for spellcaster level to summon.

~ References and credit for base stats/sheets/etc used to jump off:

The Hypertext d20 SRD for a whole buncha stuff.
Forgotten Realms Wiki eyeball entry.
Dungeons & Dragons Wikia beholder entry.
ThunderGod Cid's homebrew Eyeball Beholderkin.
Eiji-kun's homebrew Eyeball.
A crapton of forum posts all over the 'net.

Sadly, I don't have the related splatbook for the eyeball base monster (the book it can apparently be found in is Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn), and could not find the official eyeball creature sheet anywhere. So, I did the best with what I had. If it's useful to anyone, feel free to use and/or modify this sheet. ^.^

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sims 3 Island Paradise resort tips and tricks mega-post

This is a work in progress, so it may see some edits down the line. I hope that the information here spares people from having to Google problems over and over, fishing through forum posts like I did.

I now have six resorts built, which make a good rundown of how many amenities various amounts of guests expect, complete with pictures of the individual resort designs. You can check that out by clicking here if it tickles your fancy.

A'ight, onwards!

Resort basics:

- Read Carl's Resort guide, a real life-saver for any budding resort owner. Seriously, go read it if you're just starting out on resort ownership, then come back here. Otherwise, read on at your leisure. If you got to this blog post via a Google search and are looking for a specific tip, scan the content below or use the Find command (ctrl+f for most browsers) to jump to specific keywords.

The other basics, related to Sims 3 in general and very necessary for resorts:

- You should have the NRAAS mods Master Controller (with Master Controller Integration), Overwatch, and Register installed. Seriously, go get them. Overwatch stops your game from grinding to a halt even on the best gaming computers, due to a car-related bug EA hasn't bothered fixing and at this rate, never will. Master Controller is technically a huge bank of cheats, but is very useful for getting around game-breaking glitches when nothing else will work. It's also good for aging-up NPC pets and babies/toddlers that are causing unroutable Sim issues. Register will let you turn off wild animals, the ability for NPCs to adopt pets, immigration, and tourists, which is very necessary if you are playing the Isla Paradiso world (if you want to play that world, see the last point in this section). Note that Overwatch counts boats as vehicles and may end up deleting your boats during cleanup sessions. You really do need Overwatch to play Sims 3, so don't bother buying boats at all. The boat taxi will take you anywhere you need to go.

- Use multiple saved games. For example, I have eight saved games for any town I seriously care about. I name it something initially, like "Isla Paradiso" (which is the default suggestion for that world), and then add numbers to the saved game name for seven more saves. So, "Isla Paradiso 2" would be next, then "Isla Paradiso 3" and so on until the last one, "Isla Paradiso 8". After that, I backspace out the numbers and the space, so that I save over my very first saved game again, "Isla Paradiso". Then I start adding numbers again. I save through the sequence of numbers that way, over and over, so that if one save corrupts, I have seven others to go back to. I don't save all 8 saves every time of course, so the progress on each saved game would be staggered back in time the further back in the sequence I would have to go to recover from a save corruption... but it's better than nothing. I also back up all of the saved game folders to a backup folder on my main drive, along with another backup folder on my other hard drive after each play session. You may think using multiple saves is a no-brainer but I am surprised how many Simmers only have one saved game, or two at most. For reference, in a very busy and very modified town with a lot of households personally played, 8 saved games will be about 4.5gb of space. A town with only a few lots edited by you will be roughly 500-700mb for 8 saved games.

- Zombies don't seem to do much on resorts, and you really, reeeally want the Supernatural expansion for Bonehildas as will be mentioned later.

- If you want to play the Isla Paradiso world, it was shipped unplayable due to lag... because... it's EA. Get the fixed version here and be sure to carefully follow the instructions for backing up the original world and installing the fixed one. The fixed world still has a few lag issues, hence why NRAAS Register becomes necessary. Sadly, if you have already invested a lot of time in an unfixed Isla Paradiso world, this fix will do nothing for your current saved games. NRAAS Register may still help cut down some of the lag, and you can check the fix list posted with the world fix linked above to edit the town yourself and get the same results.

Planning for guests:

- You will not actually see very many guests visible at the resort, even at full occupancy. This is most likely because the game can't handle running that many people on one lot while it is also running your visible resort employees, your household Sims, and the entire rest of the town. Thus, think of the majority of your resort guests as "invisible." We'll call this "the invisible guest rule." Your greatest feedback from these guests is in the reviews, where you might see things like complaints about the hot tubs being too crowded, even if you can look around your lot and see that there is plenty of room in the hot tubs. It's the invisible guests you have to keep in mind, so pay attention to reviews.

- Bathrooms are not as huge a necessity as you might think. One all-in-one bathroom per VIP room should be plenty, and a few of them outside on the ground level of the resort near the pool area and the gym equipment should suffice. I overdid it on my first resort, so I am not sure if it's possible to get "not enough bathrooms" reviews. You can always add more all-in-ones if you see such a review pop up, or see problems with the guests who are actually visible on the lot.

- Dining rooms only need about 4-8 seats per 150 people, and I'm not sure it matters after that due to the invisible guest rule. At 137 occupants, I saw about 3 or 4 people at the most eating at one time; usually the huge dining room I had made for them was empty. At a different resort with 144 occupants, 7 guests convened for dinner, two failed to properly sit down to eat after they set their food down on the tables (because the game is stupid about that even for household Sims), but everybody seemed happy and I had 16 chairs available in the dining area just in case. You can build a grand dining room if you want, but it doesn't seem necessary. (Note that I consider this not properly tested still, so if you get reviews related to not enough seating, put out a bunch of small tables with four seats and a table umbrella/shade each if they are outside. Those can go anywhere on the lot.)

- No matter how awesome you make your VIP rooms, you will rarely see them occupied, even when your hotel is at full occupancy (which means your VIP rooms also have people in them). This is due to the invisible guest rule. Thus, bed(s) and a bathroom of some sort is really all you need for a basic VIP room. VIP room beds raise the number of guests you can have at your resort, one per spot a person can sleep. Cribs do not count, it seems no NPCs younger than child age take vacations in Sims. VIP rooms also raise your star rating, so having a few is a good idea even though rabbit-hole resort towers hold many more occupants.

- VIP locks are mildly confusing, so pay attention to menu commands for the door as well as what lock is on it when you mouse over the "Add New VIP Room Lock" greyed-out option without clicking it (which will be present if it has a VIP lock on the door). You can either use the same lock on another door to make a suite, or add a new VIP lock. You can have a maximum of 6 VIP locks, numbered 0 through 5.

- Sadly, children's toys and items don't really seem to get any use. The only child-related thing guests seem to care about in reviews is that there is kid's food available from the buffet. You can make a playground and/or a playroom if you like, but don't expect to see anyone use it. Maybe the invisible guests do, who knows? I have never seen toddlers or babies with the guests either, and placing a crib in a VIP room does nothing useful at all.

- Televisions, computers, and related items can get randomly used by guests, though much less frequently than the pool, hot tubs, and other more resort-like items. I built a theater with a big-screen TV and lots of seating, but have only seen one person in there at a time, and it's usually empty. You can also place bookshelves which will self-stock with books (different style shelves have different book titles in them), so you can build a nice reading room and guests will use it every once in a while. I have no idea if any of these items impress invisible guests or not.

Upgrades on items:

- Put "Unbreakable" on everything you possibly can. I'm not kidding. Everything. The Plumber challenge reward does not work on resort items, they will always break (even when nobody is using them, due to the invisible guest rule). Note that items that claim to be Unbreakable in the item description of Build & Buy will break on a resort lot, and cannot be upgraded to Unbreakble. Save your time and money and get the most expensive version that can still be upgraded to Unbreakable.

- Put "Fireproof" on fireplaces and any other items that have that upgrade if they are not automatically fireproof. I have not actually dealt with potential fire-hazard items on a resort lot yet, so this is a common-sense precaution.


- Set your resort stay pricing to expensive if you are pimping out the joint right away. Otherwise, set it to what feels like makes sense for the amenities you have currently. If you're in the gray area of not having the greatest amenities yet, watch your resort finances (revenue and expenses) to judge if it's your stay pricing turning visitors away, versus amenities offered. A lot of this is guesswork and trial and error. I tend to turn everything on full-boar and see what happens after a day or two, but my Sims were already rich before they started resort investing.

- Make sure all shifts have employees hired for them, at all available stations except for maintenance (do not hire maintenance unless you do not have the Supernatural expansion, see next point). So be sure there are all shifts covered for the front desk, pool bars, and food carts.

- Repair and cleaning: Bonehildas, Bonehildas, Bonehildas. Seriously, get one or two of these and do not hire any maintenance workers because they are buggy and useless, even at high quality. Don't be tempted to hire those lazy loafs to raise your star rating either, it's not worth it... unless you notice your resort seems stuck at 4.5 stars like one of mine was, even with completely-happy reviews. All it took was hiring one high-quality maintenance guy to hit 5 stars, go figure. The other exception to the "don't hire maintenance" rule is if you are running multiple resorts; at that point, the Bonehildas tend to bug out so you should hire high-quality maintenance people (as many as you think are necessary based on how things are going at the resort) and either let the Bonehildas continue to help when they aren't bugging out, or just sell them. Obviously, if you don't have the Supernatural expansion, you do need to hire maintenance and will just have to cross your fingers. You can buy Bonehilda coffins from the Sort By Function tab in Buy mode, under Entertainment and then Miscellaneous Entertainment. As a bonus, not only do Bonehildas clean, repair (handy if not all your breakable items are upgraded to Unbreakable yet), and stomp roaches, they can get into VIP-locked rooms!

- Note on the "something just broke" sound effect: it appears to apply to items becoming dirty as well, like counters. Thus, if you know all your items are upgraded to Unbreakable and you keep hearing that sound, check for dirty items (or ignore it while Bonehilda does the work).

- Turn on Room Service and Spa Services on all your resort tower-type buildings (the rabbit holes, aka the beach cabins, villas, and modern skyscraper buildings in the Resort items tab of Buy mode).

- Chlorinate all pools. The guests will complain about the chlorine in some reviews, but they also mention that at least the pool is clean. It appears to be the lesser of two evils (and more expensive), because if there is no chlorine, there is no way to clean the pool and guests will complain that it's dirty.

- Have eight buffet tables set to high food quality, each with a different type of food so that there are no categories missing. No guest will ever complain about the food and their reviews will say they love it.

- Have at least one food cart and one pool bar. Set the food cart to high quality and the pool bar specials to the most expensive option (Fresh-N-Fruity). If reviews state they wish there were more of either of those, add one at a time if you have the room. My 137-occupancy resort started getting "I wish there were more pool bars" reviews even though I had two, so I added one more and haven't heard a peep about it since. Two food carts have been sufficient for that occupancy as well.

- Set the water temperature on hot tubs to hot, and keep an eye out for reviews that say the hot tubs are crowded; if you have room, add one at a time until there are no more complaints.

- Get two fire walks to avoid "fire walks are too crowded" reviews right off the bat (get a third if you see them pop up, three seems perfect for 137 people because I had enough room to start with that). The default setting of hot appears to be fine, I wouldn't change it. One reviewer said they burned their feet even at that setting, but that "they wouldn't change a thing" so apparently they're happy with it set to hot.


- Roaches and trash piles can spawn on invisible floors, aka the ones that are above an enclosed room, even if that "floor" is directly under a proper roof. I gave up on normal roofs after a while because the problem was so bad, and ended up doing all balcony-style roofs (floor tile with fences around the edges) with ladders leading up to them. That way the Bonehildas can access bugs and trash on every level. A good hint that you have roaches or trash spawning where they can't be reached is if a Sim, Bonehilda, or maintenance worker (if you don't have Supernatural) runs to any edge of the lot, then stomps their foot and waves because they can't reach something.

- Another reason a Sim can run to the edge of a lot, then stomp and wave and holler, is because something needs repaired and something else is in the way. Example: broken television with video game system on the floor in the way.

- One more thing that can potentially cause guest Sims to stomp and wave because they can't reach something, is items beyond a VIP door lock that aren't actually in the locked room but must be accessed through it. For example, if you have chairs on a deck or balcony that can only be accessed through the VIP room, other guests will try (and fail) to get to those items. They will generally wander off after a few failed attempts, though initially they will probably run to the edge of the lot to throw their "I can't reach it" tantrum. Neat guests may also do this if trash or bugs are in or above a VIP room and Bonehilda hasn't gotten to dealing with the problem yet.

- Roaches can spawn underground, so if you cannot find the bugs but resort reviews say they exist (or you have stomping and waving Sims trying to clean up), save your game, pause it, and then put in a basement everywhere you can. Note that this can glitch some trees and plants down to the lower level, but you can pick them up and place them back where they belong on the ground level. Put bright lights in the basement and a light or white-colored flooring tile everywhere down there, unpause the game, and look carefully for little red scurrying bugs. If you see them, put in a couple of inconspicuous ladders and leave the basement there indefinitely so the Bonehildas can squash the bugs. If you see no bugs in the basement, reload your saved game so you don't have to destroy the basement (which is a glitchy and annoying process). Sometimes you can see the actual roach spawners by using the Buydebug cheat and move them to the ground floor, but the spawners aren't permanent and will vanish when the bugs are squashed, then new ones spawn in random locations later.

Speaking of roaches, it's best to avoid building a resort on anything other than a relatively flat lot. I tried a small test resort on a very hilly, small island... and the roach spawners showed up under the hills where you can't build basements to get to them. Guests would sometimes manage to get to them to squash them, but it's generally a bad idea. Sad that the game shipped that way, because islands like that can make really unique resort locations.

- Ladders are your friend when building a resort, but note that they are somewhat glitchy once you have placed them and left Build / Buy mode. The top square it eats through appears to become permanently unbuildable on upper levels; I have yet to find a way to fix that. It will also glitch the ground-level square if you use a ladder to a basement, but you can fill that hole back in by adding a square of swimming pool there, then deleting the pool square. (Credit to zeldahappy24 on the old Sims 3 forums for the pool-square trick, thank you!)

- Beach cabin style rabbit-hole buildings (the cheapest group cabins and the single cabin) have three possible color schemes, but seem to be very buggy. I've read on forums that sometimes gaining a star in ratings will unlock the color schemes, but I've also seen people say they've never had the ability to customize those two buildings. I saw it once on a game I didn't save, and after starting a second resort in my actual game, I can't get new beach-cabin style buildings to customize... but upon reaching 5 stars they were still not customizable, nor have they been customizable on further days (so far). I've also tried placing those buildings as a test at other 5-star resorts but the customize option isn't there either.

- Personal items used as decor (like sculptures and paintings your Sims made themselves, gemstones, wildflowers they picked, etc.) do not seem to count towards star rating but they will grant the usual boost towards the Decorated, Nicely Decorated, and Beautifully Decorated moodlets. If you save the resort to the library or edit the town in any sort of major way, the game may put every single one of these items back in family inventory, so keep that in mind if you want a hassle-free resort lot. Your best results will come from using only items bought (or cloned) on the resort lot, even if it feels less personal to you.

- Regarding the above point, generally the rule for resorts is, "if you can clone it, you can own it." You may notice that dishwashers are not available in Buy mode for resorts; they are not needed for guests but you might want one or more for aesthetics, realism, or your household Sims' needs (not sure if older versions might be different, but the current patch just has the dishes vanish off tables when guests are done eating). If you want a dishwasher, or any other cloneable item that can't be bought on the resort lot, buy it on your home lot and put it in family inventory. Go to the resort lot, take it out of family inventory and place it somewhere on the resort lot. Clone it and sell the original. The cloned version counts as resort property.

- Any item you bought ahead of time on your home lot to get a "jump" on upgrades will also count as your personal property and not resort property. I recommend never going this route (I learned this lesson the hard way). Always buy (or clone) items on your resort lot and upgrade them there. You can always close the resort the moment you buy it, so you have plenty of time to upgrade items without worrying about guests or paying resort bills. Open the resort once you are happy with the state of items (especially those in VIP rooms).

- Guests will complain in reviews if there is not enough plant life. By far the easiest way to make them happy, plus get a ton of credit towards raising star rating, is to plant small and regular bamboo. The base takes up the least amount of space (you can cram four per square if you want), and you can make a nice screening "wall" somewhere that will give you lots of those lovely blue plus signs of star-rating approval.

- As mentioned earlier, Bonehildas can get into VIP rooms, but your household Sims can't. If you need to get into a VIP room for any reason, add a new door that doesn't have a VIP lock (leave the VIP-locked door where it is), and have your Sim walk through it. Put the unlocked door in family inventory, make the Sim do whatever they need to do in the room, then place the unlocked door again for just long enough to get your Sim out of the room. Be sure to remove the unlocked door immediately afterwards (visible guests can and will use it to sleep in beds they didn't pay for). While your Sim is in the room, they may randomly be forced to "Get Out" which you cannot cancel, but they will successfully use the VIP-locked door to leave the room. Just get out your handy unlocked door to make them go back into the room again if you need to; I figure the room just sold when it cues the Get Out action, because it's fairly rare.

- I do not know if resorts need a security system, but I usually put one burglar alarm on an outside wall of one of the resort buildings just in case.

- This might seem like a no-brainer, but unless you are doing some sort of personal challenge, make money ahead of time before buying a resort or converting a lot to a resort. Mistakes don't matter as much when you're already rich, and the stress level is much lower when you know you can take a few days of losses without it doing much damage to your finances. For a large resort, $300,000-$500,000 is comfy to start with, and over a million bucks makes things a breeze.

- Expect your resort to lose money on the first day. In my 137-occupancy resort, I broke even on the second day. Don't be tempted to reduce quality on anything or remove employee shifts, because doing so will make your hotel less desirable. If the resort does end up failing somehow, re-open it and reduce quality on some things (medium food, no chlorine in the pools would be a good start), and get rid of graveyard shift for all employees. Max those things back out again later when your resort is doing better. And remember, you will only gain about one star rating per day or two even if you have the snazziest resort imaginable.

That's all for now, happy Simming! ^_^